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Most of the time music makes sense in some intuitive ways. There are instruments that go together, time signatures, typical lengths of performances, and some sort of organization to the piece. But sometimes a composer decides they want to go in an entirely other direction. Here are some of those wacky performances.
1. John Cage is going to be a recurring figure on this list because he liked to make a statement with his music. One of his most famous pieces is 4’33”, a piece that consists entirely of four minutes and 33 seconds of silence. It was intended to be performed in a concert hall with other patrons, ideally to make us listen to the sounds we ourselves make.
2. The next John Cage addition to the list is Organ 2/ASLSP (As SLow aS Possible). One performance has been going on since 2001 in a cathedral in Halberstadt, Germany. The piece is so slow that the note changes a mere once every seven years, and is expected to continue until 2640.
3. Another modern weirdo in the musical world is Philip Glass, best known for his opera Einstein on the Beach. Of course calling the piece an opera is stretching the term somewhat. There’s no plot, and instead of characters the singers embody themes. It’s even got some “knee plays” or sections between the acts in which the choir chants over rhythmic narration to create a weird effect.
4. Nearly any piece by Brian Ferneyhough would count as a weird performance, since he’s known for bizarre time signatures and forcing musicians to use their instruments in unorthodox ways. He’s considered one of the hardest composers to play.
5. Mozart is known as one of the greats of music, and hardly someone who broke the rules, but in his piece A Musical Joke, he did just that. He made his piece repetitive, ignored harmonies, and wrote the music so it would sound like musicians were playing the wrong notes.
6. During her appearance on The Dick Cavett Show, Yoko Ono certainly pushed the boundaries of performance. She showed a video of a fly and accompanied it with her voice contorted into the sounds of a saxophone.